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March 01, 2015

ABA supports collection of data for annual Equal Pay Report

The ABA recently applauded the goals of a proposed rule for collecting summary pay data from federal contractors and subcontractors to better target activities of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP).

OFCCP is responsible for enforcing laws requiring that those who do business with the federal government follow the fair and reasonable standards that they do not discriminate on the basis of sex, race, color, religion, national origin, disability or status as a protected veteran.

Last April, President Obama issued a memorandum entitled  “Advancing Pay Equality Through Compensation Data Collection” instructing the secretary of Labor to develop a rule to collect summary data on employee compensation by sex, race and ethnicity within specified broad job categories. To minimize administrative burdens, the new data collection would be integrated into existing reporting obligations and would apply to companies with more than 100 employees and that hold federal contracts or subcontracts worth $50,000 or more for at least 30 days. 

“The ABA has long supported as an indispensable step to eradicating discrimination in the workplace and the justice system the systematic collection of data to measure the scope of the problem, inform public debate, and develop fact-based remedies,” ABA Governmental Affairs Director Thomas M. Susman wrote Jan. 5 in comments to Debra A. Carr, director of the OFCCP Division of Policy and Program Development.

Susman emphasized that the ability of OFCCP to identify and remedy pay discrimination in the federal contractor workforce, comprising more than 20 percent of all U.S. workers, is critical to closing the pay gap, which adversely affects women, families and the economy.

He noted that the collected data will be analyzed and aggregated to establish industry level standards for pay disparities, which will be used to direct OFCCP’s limited enforcement resources toward entities for which reported pay data suggests potential pay violations.

The proposed rule also would provide for the sharing of the data with federal contractors and the public to raise public awareness of the existence of discriminatory pay disparities and provide important information to prospective employees, enable employers to review their own pay data using the same metrics as OFCCP, and encourage voluntary compliance.

Susman also indicted that the collected and aggregated data shared through implementation of the proposed rule also “may convince the public and Congress of the pervasiveness of wage discrimination and provide the impetus needed to enact more effective laws that will make equal pay for equal work a reality for both public and private sector workers.”

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